Who is leading the change
- Court Services Victoria
The Victorian Government fund and complete works to ensure all Magistrates’ Court of Victoria headquarter courts:
- provide safe waiting areas and rooms for co-located service providers
- provide accessibility for people with disabilities
- provide proper security staffing and equipment
- provide separate entry and exit points for applicants and respondents
- provide private interview rooms for use by registrars and service providers
- provide remote witness facilities, to allow witnesses to give evidence off site and from court-based interview rooms
- provide adequate facilities for children and ensure that courts are ‘child-friendly’
- use multi-lingual and multi-format signage
- use pre-existing local facilities and structures to accommodate proceedings or associated aspects of court business - for example, for use as safe waiting areas
Prior to all family violence matters being heard and determined in specialist family violence courts, the Victorian Government should fund and complete works to ensure that those magistrates’ courts (and children’s courts) that deal with a high volume of family violence–related matters have similar capacity.
This recommendation is integral to the roll out of the Specialist Family Violence Courts (SFVC) operating model and its implementation is interdependent with several recommendations, in particular Recommendation 60. These recommendations are being progressed together to manage these interdependencies and aim to:
- improve victim survivors’ experience of the court system, including safety at court
- reduce unnecessary repeat attendances at courts
- streamline the hearing of family violence matters
A project team within the Court Services Victoria (CSV) Assets department has been established to manage the construction works for the SFVCs. This project team works closely with the SFVC project team within the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (MCV) to ensure the new facilities are fit for purpose, accessible and will support the increased safety and experience of court users.
Funding has been provided for construction works for the following 5 locations across Victoria: Shepparton, Ballarat, Moorabbin, Heidelberg and Frankston. The building works at all five locations has been completed. Wyndham and Bendigo have also received funding for a SFVC.
An extensive implementation strategy has been developed to ensure that headquarter courts meet the safety, security, privacy and access standards of this recommendation.
The 5 initial Specialist Family Violence Court (SFVC) sites all required construction to bring them up to the standard outlined in this recommendation and to support the SFVC operating model within the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (MCV). That construction has been completed at all five locations, and three locations have commenced operations as SFVCs: Shepparton, Ballarat and Moorabbin. The commencement of the SFVC operating model at Heidelberg and Frankston was delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic however are scheduled to commence operations in the first half of 2021.
This recommendation relies on the work for Recommendations 60, 61 and 71.
MCV continues to ensure that, within the parameters of current funding, a specialist family violence justice response is available at non-SFVC locations through innovative court practices. For example, the implementation of the Family Violence Intervention Order online form offers victim survivors greater choice and flexibility in how they apply for an intervention order, either online or by visiting a local court. Further, there is a pilot underway to allow victim survivors to engage in family violence proceedings from a remote location separate from the court, reducing the trauma associated with attending court and being in close proximity to perpetrators.
Continuous improvement of family violence practice across the Courts will promote the safety of victim survivors, and ensure perpetrators are held to account.
- Forecast implementation date: 31 July 2021.
Reviewed 07 January 2021